By: James Davis
Pawn shops and other second hand stores have gained in popularity over the last several years. People have learned that there is often value – sometimes considerable – in items they no longer use or need. While there is nothing illegal about pawning or selling your own used property, caution should be exercised if someone else asks you to pawn property for them. If it turns out the property is actually stolen, you could face serious criminal charges in Jacksonville.
Dealing in Stolen Property
In Jacksonville, it is a crime to sell or pawn stolen property. Florida Statute 812.019, Dealing in Stolen Property, reads:
“Any person who traffics in, or endeavors to traffic in, property that he or she knows or should know was stolen shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree…”
Not surprisingly, most people who are charged with selling or pawning stolen property claim that they had no idea the property was stolen. The State of Florida has pre-emptively addressed that defense under Florida Statute 812.022(2) which reads:
“Except as provided in subsection (5), proof of possession of property recently stolen, unless satisfactorily explained, gives rise to an inference that the person in possession of the property knew or should have known that the property had been stolen.”
Even if you actually paid your friend for the merchandise you could still face criminal charges if the purchase price was substantially below market value. Florida Statute 812.022(3) reads:
“Proof of the purchase or sale of stolen property at a price substantially below the fair market value, unless satisfactorily explained, gives rise to an inference that the person buying or selling the property knew or should have known that the property had been stolen.”
Penalties for Pawning Stolen Property
If you are charged with dealing in stolen property in Florida you are facing a second degree felony charge. A second degree felony carries a possible penalty of up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 if you are convicted. In addition, if you are convicted of dealing in stolen property the conviction could be used to find that you are a “habitual felony offender” if you have a criminal record which can add an additional term of imprisonment to your sentence.
Do I Have a Defense?
It should be clear by now that a conviction for dealing in stolen property carries with it potentially harsh penalties. Therefore, if you are charged with pawning stolen property you should take the situation seriously. You may have a defense if the property was not yours. The statute indicates that being in possession of recently stolen property creates an inference that you knew or should have known the property was stolen. This means that that court may start from the standpoint that you knew, or should have known, the property was stolen; however, you may be able to convince the court that you did not know it was stolen. With the assistance of an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney you may be able to present evidence, for example, that will convince a judge or jury that you were simply doing a friend a favor or that the friend gave you the property to pay off a debt. There are an endless number of possible explanations as to why you had the property and why you would not have known it was stolen. The key is to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to make sure you are able to present evidence supporting your explanation to ensure that you are not convicted. Contact James Davis if you have run into problems with the issue of pawning stolen property.